An extreme, multiday rainfall event over southeastern Arizona during 27-31 July 2006 caused record flooding and a historically unprecedented number of slope failures and debris flows in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. An unusual synoptic weather pattern induced repeated nocturnal mesoscale convective systems over southeastern Arizona for five continuous days, generating multiday rainfall totals up to 360 mm. Analysis of point rainfall and weather radar data yielded storm totals for the southern Santa Catalina Mountains at 754 grid cells approximately 1 km ?? 1 km in size. Precipitation intensity for the 31 July storms was not unusual for typical monsoonal precipitation in this region (recurrence interval (RI) < 1 year), but multiday rainfall where slope failures occurred had RI > 50 years and individual grid cells had RI exceeding 1000 years. The 31 July storms caused the watersheds to be essentially saturated following 4 days of rainfall. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Spatial distribution and frequency of precipitation during an extreme event: July 2006 mesoscale convective complexes and floods in southeastern Arizona